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Penelope – A Song Cycle by Sarah Kirkland Snider
February 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm
$20 – $35
~ “rapturous” — The New York Times ~
~ “the year’s most affecting creation” — Time Out New York ~
~ “no matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards” — Pitchfork ~
PENELOPE is a song cycle by composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, featuring vocalist Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. Inspired by Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey, Penelope is a meditation on memory, identity, and what it means to come home.
Penelope originated as a music-theater monodrama commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center, written by Ellen McLaughlin with Snider in 2007-2008. In the work, originally scored for alto/actor and string quartet, a woman’s husband appears at her door after an absence of twenty years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of an unnamed war, he doesn’t know who he is and she doesn’t know who he’s become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him the Odyssey, and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband’s memory and the terror and trauma of war.
In 2009 Snider re-conceived Penelope as a song cycle, expanding and tailoring it to the unique talents of vocalist Shara Worden and the chamber orchestra Signal, while also collaborating with programmer Michael Hammond on sound design. Worden and Signal, under the direction of acclaimed conductor Brad Lubman, recorded this version of Penelope with producer Lawson White November 3-6, 2009, at Clinton Studios in New York, NY.
Suspended somewhere between art song, indie rock, and chamber folk, the music of Penelope moves organically from moments of elegiac strings-and-harp reflection to dusky post-rock textures with drums, guitars and electronics, all directed by a strong sense of melody and a craftsman’s approach to songwriting. Penelope has garnered critical acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Los Angeles Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, New Music Box, The Utne Reader, eMusic, textura Magazine, Death and Taxes Magazine, Popshifter, Venus, and many others, with Time Out New York calling the album “the year’s most affecting creation,” textura Magazine declaring it “head and shoulders above much else that was released in 2010,” and the Indie Handbook pronouncing it “the landmark achievement of 2010.” Penelope received dozens of year-end accolades internationally, with NPR naming it one of “The Five Best Genre-Defying Albums of 2010,” Time Out New York placing it at the top of the “Ten Best Classical Albums of 2010,” textura rating it No. 3 on its list of “The Top Ten Albums of 2010,” and The Huffington Post naming the track “The Lotus Eaters” one of the “Top 10 Alternative Art Songs of The Decade.” The influential webzine Pitchfork called the work “a gorgeous piece of music, but it is more — it is also a hauntingly vivid psychological portrait, one that explores a dark scenario with a light, almost quizzical touch, finding poetic resonances everywhere.”
FearNoMusic will be joined by Worden, Snider, for this one-night-only performance.
Conductor: Katherine FitzGibbon, Artistic Director, Resonance Ensemble
Inés Voglar, violin
Joël Belgique, viola
Nancy Ives, cello
Alicia Paulsen, flute
Mark Dubac, clarinet
Leander Star, French horn
Jeffrey Work, trumpet
Dan Balmer, guitar
Sergio Carreño, drum set and percussion